Well known Malayalam poet, from Palakkad District of Kerala and India’s prestigious Njanpith Award winner, Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri passed away at the age of 94.
The poet was admitted to a private hospital a few days back and he breathed his last this morning at 8.10 A.M. People from all walks of life paid tribute to the great poet of Kerala. The State Governor, Arif Mohammed Khan tweeted that the passing of Mahakavi Akkitham was a great loss for Indian literature as well as Malayalam poetry. “With roots firm on Indian thought, Akkitham played a role in bringing modern sensibility to Malayalam poetry. My condoence,” said the tweet from PRO, Kerala Raj Bhavan.
Fondly known as Akkitham, the poet was born on March 18, 1926 at Amettikkara in Kumaranallur, Palakkad District of Kerala. He was born to Amettu Akkithathu Manayil Vasudevan Namboothiri and Checkur Manaykkal Parvathy Antharjanam. In school, he learned Sanskrit, Astrology and Music, while he did pursue college education, eventually Akkitham discontinued his studies. He began his career as a journalist and was the Editor of Unni Namboothiri magazine. This was a perfect space for him to air his views against several social maladies that was plaguing during his time. Later, he would work as an Assistant Editor at Mangalodayam as well as Yogakshemam magazines. It was in the year 1956 Akkitham joined the Kozhikode station of state owned broadcasting service, All India Radio. Eventually, he relocated to Thrissur, while he served the job till 1975. Also, the poet’s yet another literary initiative, titled Anaadi, espousing the cause of the studies of vedas.
Akkitham’s literary endeavour began in the early 1950s was through a slew of poems in Malayalam. The noted initial work, Irupatham Noottandinte Ithihasam, meaning, the Epic of the 20th Century, known as Khandakaavyam, which can be termed as truly modernist poems in Malayalam Literature. What is more, this book fetched Akkitham, the Sanjayan Award in 1952. Till date, the poet has published literary works of around 45 books, consisting of anthologies of poems, plays and short stories. Notable among them included Balidarshanam (Vision of Bali), Arangettam, Nimisha Kshethram, Idinju Polinja Loka, Amritaghatika and Kalikottilil. In addition to that, two collection of Malayalam essays, Upanayanam and Samavarttanam, which he penned in prose genre. Furthermore, the poet has also translated Srimad Bhagavatam, titled: Ssree Mahabhagavatham composing 14,613 verses in as many as 2,400 pages.
Akkitham was also active in social reformation activities. He pursued his solitary fight against social maladies forging alliance with Yogakshema Sabha, where he put his best to reign in the much needed reforms in the lives of the Malayalam speaking Brahmins – read Namboothiries – of Kerala. Also, Akkitham was associated with a slew of centres in thrunaaya, Kadavallur and Thrissur, where he strived hard to promote vedic studies. His other remarkable involvement in the social reformation horizon was the participation in the Paliyam Sathyagraha, a peaceful resistence against untouchability, way back in 1947.
Akkitham is the literary giant of Kerala having received the best of accolades across the country. As said earier, as he had received the prestigious Sanjayan Award in 1952 for his seminal work, Irupahtam Noottandinte Ithihaasam, Akkitham had receied the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for poetry in 1971 for his classic work, Balidarshanam. After that the poet bagged two major accolades in 1973: one was the Sahitya Akademi Award and the scone one being the Odakkuzhal Award for his work, Nisha Kshethram. Then he received Asan Smaraka Kavitha Puraskaram in 1994 and a couple of years later, he bagged Lalithambika Antharjanam Smaraka Sahitya Award. In 1997, Akkitham also bagged the Vallathol Award. In 2012, Akkitham won a major honour of Vayalar Award and in 2016, the Government of Kerala also conferred him with the Ezhuthachan Puraskaram, which is the highest literary award from his home state.
Akkitham won the fourth highest civilian award of Padmashree from the Government of India in 2017. Back then, as he was under weather, the poet could not make it for the investiture ceremony and subsequently, this was conferred on the poet at his residence through the district collector of Palakkad. Akkitham’s ultimate recognition was the Jnanpith Award, which is the highest literary award in India, conferred to him last year. Other honours inclde Krishna Geedhi Award, Nalappad Award, Puthezhan Award, Moori Devi Award of Bharatiya Jnanpith and Amrita Keerti Puraskar. Also, a documentary cinema, Arikil Akkitham, directed by E Suresh has been made which narrates the life of the poet from his daughter Sreeja’s perspective.
Married to Sreedevi Antharjanam (she passed away on March 13, 2019 at the age of 85), the couple have two sons and four daughters: Narayanan, Vasudevan, Sreeja, Indira, Parvathy and Leela respectively. The Indian.News expresses sincere condolence to the bereaved family members of Akkitham.